Qualifying Prospects Is the Better Way to Sales

In our last blog, “We All Live in the Sandler Submarine”, I talked about the seven steps of the Sandler system and how working through these steps will improve your sales process. Step 3 – Pain; Step 4 – Budget; and Step 5 – Decision; are the qualifying steps in the Sandler system. If your prospect reveals 3 to 5 issues to you that are clearly various levels of pain, they have money budgeted to fix the problems, and they have the authority to make the decision to buy your product or services, then congratulations! You have a qualified prospect.

The Sandler way of qualifying prospects before you ever present to them, is substantially different from the traditional way of selling. In the old traditional selling methods, sales people present benefits and savings to prospects who may not even need their products or services at that time. And worse, you often give away free consulting and walk away empty handed. That’s why qualifying the prospect before any presentation is made, makes so much sense to both parties. Nobody’s time is wasted.


In the traditional selling method, the prospect is typically in control of the sales meeting, leaving the sales person in a weak position. Here’s why:

1. Traditional Selling Step one typically means the prospect plays his or her cards close to the vest and reveals very little to the sales-person. In fact, the prospects are so guarded they may outright lie to the sales-person, rather than share the truth about their problems. Some sales scenarios may even include manufactured reasons for the meeting because the prospect is just seeking information about your products and services, especially pricing, so they can use it as leverage in negotiations with other vendors, or to get you to offer major concessions in your pricing. Either way, it’s not a winning situation for the sales-person.

2. The prospect wants to know what the sales-person knows, and they eagerly launch into a presentation and talk, in detail, about all the benefits and advantages of their company. He or she offers a quote, a proposal, references, and a lot of free advice. But, Step two typically ends with the prospect offering what sounds like a big compliment. For instance: “You really know your stuff, and I’ll get back to you in a week.”

3. All too often, though, more than a week goes by and the prospect does not get back to the sales-person at all. The salesperson has entered step three in the prospect’s buying system. Step three is very similar to step one because the prospect has misled the sales-person again. Even though they didn’t live up to the promise of returning a call, the sales-person will still make an inquiry to the prospect in hopes of progress.

4. The sales-person may connect with the prospect, but the prospect is likely to put them off. They will usually make up excuses as to why they haven’t gotten back to you or made a decision. They want to keep the sales-person on the hook, or they are too embarrassed to let you know they chose a different vendor. The sales-person is left dangling in limbo and continues to pursue a prospect that won’t be buying.

5. Finally, that’s how the process ends: in voicemail jail. The prospect doesn’t pick up the phone and “goes dark” on the salesperson. You may never hear from them again.

Notice that the prospect’s system for buying things is the same as the traditional salesperson’s approach for selling things. It works for the prospect, so they won’t change it. The Sandler System, on the other hand, is designed to level the playing field so the salesperson and the prospect can establish an Adult-to-Adult relationship, where both parties have something to gain. Working at the same level, they can decide as adults whether to proceed with the sales process, rather than remain in limbo. The key to knowing whether this relationship will work is uncovering the prospect’s degree of pain. Stay tuned to our next blog for more on identifying a prospect’s pain.